Cardoza gets 'Champion of Agriculture' award

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) was honored with the 2011 Champion of Agriculture Award by American Agri-Women, the national coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women’s organizations.

Cardoza was recognized for his leadership on the House Committee on Agriculture to support policies promoting abundant, safe, and affordable domestic food and fiber production.

Cardoza, who serves as the Ranking Member of the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee this Congress, has also led efforts to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency’s overregulation of the agriculture sector. In March, Cardoza grilled EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about the EPA’s “agency activism,” and the impact their extreme regulations have on farmers’ ability to produce food for the nation.

“I am honored to accept this award from an organization representing thousands of women in agriculture nationwide, including many in the Central Valley,” said Cardoza. “A strong agricultural sector is key to our nation’s food security, and I will keep fighting in Congress for pro-farming policies and to eliminate burdensome and unnecessary regulations.”

Barbara Brazil LeVake of Gustine, who serves as state legislative director for California Women for Agriculture and is a second-generation member of the CWA’s Merced County Chapter, said, “I have worked with Congressman Cardoza for years on ag issues, and every time we have gone to him for help, he has been there for us. As a member of the House Ag Committee, he has gone to bat for the specialty crops program, which is so important to Central Valley ag producers. Congressman Cardoza has also been a champion for regulatory reform, and has taken on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for policies that are preventing our farmers from being able to grow safe, affordable food. Congressman Cardoza has been a true champion of agriculture, and we thank him for his support.”

California is home to 81,500 farms and ranches, and agriculture produced $36.2 billion in cash farm receipts in 2008. The state produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. Four of the five counties in Congressman Cardoza’s Congressional District – San Joaquin, Merced, Stanislaus, and Fresno – rank in the top ten agriculturally-producing counties in the state, based on the market value of products sold.

Founded in 1974, American Agri-Women currently has 58 state and commodity affiliate organizations throughout the country, representing tens of thousands of women involved in agriculture. AAW members are actively involved in impacting legislative and regulatory matters at the local, state, and national levels. AAW is also instrumental in student and consumer education about agriculture through national and state programs like “Agriculture in the Classroom.”